Wednesday, November 11, 2015

ANNOUNCEMENT: We're moving our blog to our website!


Thank you all for following our blogger account. We are excited to announce that we are moving our blog to our new website. Although this account will not be deleted, it will no longer be updated.

You can now access our blog posts, action alerts, press releases, and news hits under the "What's New" section of our homepage. 

If you have any questions, please email We look forward to continue sharing our ideas and progress with all of you.

Catalyst Miami

Monday, November 9, 2015

Family leadership development programs offered in Liberty City and Downtown Miami beginning in February

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                            
November 9, 2015

Carla Moreira Strickland
(786) 414-1292
Family leadership development programs offered in Liberty City and Downtown Miami beginning in February

Catalyst Miami aims to cultivate strong civic leaders through leadership development programs 

MIAMI, Florida – In February, Catalyst Miami will offer two leadership development programs for individuals and families interested in growing as advocates and community leaders. Step Up Miami, a 12-week program, will be hosted in Liberty City. Parent Leadership Training Institute, a 22-week program, will be hosted in Downtown Miami. The programs are open to all residents, with dinner and childcare provided at no cost.

Step Up Miami is a 12-week leadership development program that aims to generate a critical mass of neighborhood leaders interested in addressing poverty in Miami-Dade County. The program guides participants through an examination of current best practices in community development, the sharing of personal experiences, an exploration of diverse community development approaches, and hands-on application of problem solving strategies.

The next Step Up Miami cohort begins on Tuesday, February 16, 2015 at Gwen Cherry Park, located at 7090 NW 22nd Ave, Miami, FL.

Parent Leadership Training Institute is a 22-week leadership development training that helps parents and child advocates learn the leadership skills needed to become effective advocates for children in schools, communities, and state and local governments. Participants are able to enroll their children, grades K-5, in our Children’s Leadership Training Institute, which runs parallel to PLTI. Children will experience a multiple intelligence-based curriculum designed to develop young leaders.

The next Parent Leadership Training Institute cohort begins on Thursday, February 13, 2015 at Catalyst Miami, located at 1900 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL.

For more information or to apply, please contact Gina Ha, Family Leadership Director at Catalyst Miami, at (786) 414-1296 or


Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization developing and supporting individual leadership and strong organizations that work together to improve health, education, and economic opportunity in our community. You can visit Catalyst Miami’s website at and follow Catalyst Miami on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment began on November 1, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                   
November 9, 2015       
Carla Moreira Strickland
(786) 414-1292

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment began on November 1, 2015

Catalyst Miami’s community health workers will help individuals interested in finding coverage in the Marketplace starting on November 1, 2015 and ending on January 31, 2016

MIAMI, Florida Sunday, November 1, 2015 marked the first day of Open Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. To assist individuals interested in attaining coverage through the Marketplace, Catalyst Miami’s several community health workers will be providing navigation services in our offices and at off-site locations from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. health and human services secretary, said the federal government is targeting Florida and three other states in an effort to enroll the uninsured. Catalyst Miami is one of the organizations leading the enrollment effort locally. We aim to ensure that all residents who need quality, affordable healthcare can access it.

To be eligible for health coverage through the Marketplace, one must live in the United States, be a United States citizen or national, and not be incarcerated.

Important dates for 2016 enrollment:
November 1, 2015
: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll in a 2016 Marketplace plan. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2016.
December 15, 2015: Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start January 1, 2016.
January 1, 2016: 2016 coverage starts for those who enroll or change plans by December 15.
January 15, 2016: Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage to start February 1, 2016
January 31, 2016: 2016 Open Enrollment ends. Enrollments or changes between January 16 and January 31 take effect March 1, 2016.

If you don’t enroll in a 2016 plan by January 31, 2016, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Individuals should also note that this year’s penalties for not having healthcare coverage are higher then last year. To learn more, contact us at (305) 576-5001 or check out our informational post at


Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization developing and supporting individual leadership and strong organizations that work together to improve health, education, and economic opportunity in our community. You can visit Catalyst Miami’s website at and follow Catalyst Miami on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Connecting our community with basic needs

Imagine the difficulty of having to choose between putting food on your table or paying for healthcare.  For many in Miami-Dade County, they are faced with these types of decisions every day.  While we have made a lot of progress in providing resources, many individuals and families remain food insecure and struggle to access basic necessities.  In fact, one in six Americans are at risk of going hungry and, according to the 2014 Annual Social and Economic Supplement by the US Census Bureau, over 45 million people and about 20 percent of children under 18 live in poverty. Many are hardworking Americans who are struggling with lower wages and rising costs of living.

Fortunately, there are nonprofits in our community that are helping to make a difference by connecting individuals and families with basic human services such as such as emergency shelter and access to food and benefits.  We are proud to partner with these organizations to ensure they are able to reach these individuals at their immediate point of need and provide them with the programs and services that will set them on the path to economic stability.

Recently, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced Catalyst Miami as a recipient of the 2015 Basic Human Services grant. Catalyst Miami will use the funds to deliver vital social services to the community.
Catalyst Miami was founded in 1996 to develop and support individual leadership and strong organizations that work together to improve health, education, and economic opportunity in our community. Through their programs and services, they help families become prosperous and civically engaged.
There’s great value in investing in these grants throughout Miami-Dade County, mainly because they help individuals and families regain and maintain financial stability that is critically important to the overall success of our community.
Along with this financial support, we thank the thousands of Bank of America employees in our community that give their time, passion and expertise through volunteerism to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
Gene Schaefer, Miami market president
Bank of America

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Prosperity Miami initiative kicks off in Overtown

Local organizations launch effort to provide direct services and to increase civic engagement in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods

The effort, funded by Allegany Franciscan Ministries, aims to provide residents with direct services while engaging them in a dialogue about policy issues impacting their communities and how they can become involved in creating change

MIAMI, Florida – On September 14, 2015, Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit organization helping families become prosperous and civically engaged, officially kicked off “Prosperity Miami,” an initiative to offer direct services and to increase civic engagement in Miami-Dade County. Catalyst Miami has partnered with South Florida Voices for Working Families and New Florida Majority Education Fund to canvass ten neighborhoods and to engage 8,000 families. The goal is two-fold: to provide families with essential services and to connect them with opportunities to become civically active. The civic engagement opportunities include voter registration, U.S. citizenship application, participation in leadership development programs, participation in community organizing trainings, and more.

For many low-income families, accessing direct services is a challenge. The family caretaker has to worry about making an appointment, getting permission to miss work, accessing transportation, figuring out childcare, and, most importantly, losing income. These challenges make it hard for families to access social services that can improve their quality of life. It’s also a challenge to engage in civic activities when there are so many other pressing issues of concern.

To mitigate these challenges, Catalyst Miami will offer on-the-spot enrollment services at weekly Prosperity Miami neighborhood fairs, as well as community health fairs, churches, job sites, school open houses, and back-to-school events in ten neighborhoods, including Coconut Grove, Downtown, Florida City, Hialeah, Homestead, Liberty City, Little Haiti, Little Havana, Overtown, and Sweetwater. According to U.S. Census data, these ten neighborhoods have the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured children and families, families at risk of becoming uninsured, families medically underserved due to low-income/asset-limited status, and individuals and families impacted by the five-year ban on permanent residents.   

“Catalyst Miami is eager to begin this pilot and reboot our Prosperity Campaign. We are ready to bring our services to our clients, meeting them as close to home as possible. We are also grateful for our partners in this endeavor. New Florida Majority Education Fund and South Florida Voices for Working Families bring community connections and civic engagement opportunities to Prosperity Miami, helping us fulfill our mission,” said Gretchen Beesing, Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Miami.

Prosperity Miami kicked off in Overtown at the YWCA of Greater Miami, located on 351 NW 5th Street, on Monday, September 14th. Dozens of canvassers knocked on doors from 3:00-5:00pm to inform families about the services and opportunities being offered.


Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting families and community organizations by improving health, education, and economic outcomes in South Florida.  

New Florida Majority Education Fund is a statewide organization working to increase the voting power and influence of African Americans, Latinos, new immigrants, and working families towards a more inclusive, equitable Florida.

South Florida Voices for Working Families is a coalition of community, union and faith-based organizations working together to win improvements in the quality of life for working people in the South Florida area.

Examining Social Justice in a Post-9/11 World

By: Camilo Mejía 

This past Friday marked 14 years since the September 11 attacks, an event that drastically changed the course of American foreign policy and led to a series of US military interventions throughout the Middle East. The event also changed many aspects of our lives, from people's right to due process, to widespread state surveillance, to the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the public. The Social Justice Table, a network of social justice organizations working to create social change in Miami-Dade County, in partnership with the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy (iCED) at Miami Dade College, hosted a panel discussion to consider all the changes that have taken place and to explore community-centered approaches that address national security while preserving people’s right to privacy and redress grievances.

The panel discussion was preceded by a service component organized by iCED and largely driven by Miami-Dade College students who collected non-perishable items and assembled a PB&J sandwich line. The non-perishables were donated to Stand Down, a national organization dedicated to eradicating homelessness in the veteran community, while the PB&J sandwiches were donated to the Miami Rescue Mission, a local shelter serving the greater homeless community since 1922.

“Having a service component to benefit charity groups is a good thing,” remarked Scot Evans, professor at the University of Miami School of Education and Human Development, “… but having a service component followed by a discussion looking into why there is a need for charity is even better.” 

The panel discussion that followed offered participants an overview of foreign and domestic policy changes resulting from the 9/11 attacks, looking into the rationale behind the US invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq in the context of international law, and the change in state vs public relationship as contextualized by the Patriot Act and other domestic policy changes.

Then the audience got to hear about the first-hand experiences of a local organizer who has been active in the Occupy movement in Miami and other social justice movements, such as the March Against Monsanto and the People’s Climate March. The panelists challenged participants to imagine ways to address safety and security concerns while protecting people’s right to organize and demand positive social change, and the moderator encouraged the audience to join local social justice initiatives.

As always, participants were invited to regroup at a local venue for some unstructured social networking after the panel and group discussions. Around 20 Social Justice Table partners shared food and drink and continued exchanging ideas and information at the social hour.

The next Social Justice Justice Gathering will take place on October 12 at Catalyst Miami, and will provide an opportunity for social justice partners and allies to contribute to the People’s Climate March, happening on October 14, by making signs and banners for the march while enjoying food and drink during our unstructured networking time.

For more information, contact Camilo Mejía at

Thursday, September 3, 2015

This Labor Day: Americans Reflect on Good Jobs

Pictured: Roxy Azuaje

Roxy Azuaje, Public Allies and Youth Manager at Catalyst Miami, was recently invited to participate in the Workshift Rockefeller + Purpose Good Jobs Campaign. We are proud that she was able to share her story on past work experiences and how her current job is the definition of a "good job." 

The Workshift campaign is a national campaign that seeks to change the way Americans think and talk about good jobs in the United States today. In order to build a more equitable, inclusive economy, Workshift is creating a space for workers, communities, employers, and policymakers to join together in a conversation about what it means to create good jobs for all. WorkShift aims to set a new standard for what makes a job a good job that is grounded in the personal experiences and basic needs of the modern American worker.
Spotlight: Roxy Azuaje
After immigrating to Florida from Venezuela as a young woman, Roxy Azuaje worked in odd jobs — restaurants, nanny, photo assistant, TV production and nonprofits — before securing a full-time position in her field. Now she works as a Public Allies and Youth Manager for a nonprofit in Miami and has good benefits, paid time off, flexibility, and is proud of her job. Having worked across many jobs — both good and bad — Roxy has a unique perspective on the things that are most critical in a job in America today.
“I’m proud in my current job to work with great people that truly care for others. The content of our work helps the community, but the organization itself also believes to do that you need fair and just policies internally. We’re treated fairly, given vacation, and paid time off. My boss really invests in me, both in helping to develop my skills, but also making sure I feel valued.” Roxy Azuaje

To learn more about the Workshift campaign, go to #GoodJobsForAll.

Monday, July 13, 2015

In-depth highlights from Threads Miami

On May 29, 2015, Threads Miami, which was part of a nationwide series of conversations held by the Independent Sector (IS), brought together dozens of leaders from Miami's charitable sector to discuss nine key trends shaping the future of the charitable sector. IS sought to bring awareness to our community about these trends and to start a conversation about how our sector will adapt and react to these trends. IS just released the highlights from our three-hour conversation. In Miami, participants spoke about the need for deeper partnerships among nonprofits, funders, and the community. In sum, there is a desire for "more co-creation."

Read in-depth highlights from Threads Miami
Threads Miami was held in the historic and light-filled Coral Gables Museum. The need for collaboration with multiple stakeholders – funders, nonprofits, and community – was a major theme throughout the day. Some participants articulated a need for deeper connections that reflect “relational not transactional” relationships and include “more voices” in conversations about solutions and the future. Several participants described nonprofits today as living through a moment when the old model is broken but the new model has not yet emerged. The old model, they said, is characterized by a challenged funding model, lack of capacity, and superficial relationships with community. The group identified several examples of organizations and coalitions that are addressing these issues, for example by leveraging business and government funding, using innovative technology, and developing community leadership. 

If you weren't able to follow the Miami conversation on social media, be sure to check out Independent Sector's Storify to see what people were sharing online using #ThreadsMIA.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Affordable Care Act is here to stay

By: Center for American Progress

The Decision:
· The Court voted 6-3 to hold that the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits are available in ALL states.
· The opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts, who was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor.
· Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.
·  The Court’s opinion was based on interpreting the law as written and did NOT rely on Chevron deference.

What it means in Plain English:
· The opinion is a VERY strong, definitive endorsement of the law.
· The legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act are OVER.
· The opinion concludes that there is only ONE proper interpretation based on the statute’s text, structure, and purpose.
· Only Congress, not a future Republican administration’s IRS, can change the law.

Key points:
· The Supreme Court has spoken – twice. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and it’s here to stay.
·  The Affordable Care Act is working and it’s here to stay. It’s time to stop refighting the battles of the past and time to start building on the success of providing health coverage to more than 16 million Americans and countless benefits and protections to more than 100 million other Americans.
·  It’s time for Republicans and their allies to accept reality. No more frivolous lawsuits. No more wasting time on dozens of pointless repeal votes. No more refusing to expand Medicaid. No more excuses, period.
· Republicans continue to treat the Supreme Court like an arm of the Republican Congress. We hope that in the future, the Court will not allow itself to be drawn into partisan political battles that threaten its legitimacy as an institution and the legacies of the Justices themselves.

The Affordable Care Act is working:
· More than 16 million Americans have health coverage, many for the first time, thanks to the ACA, including over 10 million consumers who are enrolled through the marketplaces.
· 85 percent of consumers who purchases coverage through the marketplace received a tax credit, with the average consumer receiving $272 each month to help them purchase quality, affordable coverage.
· This year, more than 80 percent of consumers using could purchase a plan for less than $100 a month or less after tax credits.
· The percentage of uninsured Americans has plummeted, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate is now 11.9 percent, a decrease of nearly 35 percent since the ACA’s major provisions went into effect.
· 81 percent of ACA enrollees report that they are satisfied with their plans.
· More than 60 percent of ACA enrollees say that they would not have been able to access or afford care without their ACA coverage.
· More than 100 million Americans who have preexisting conditions can never be denied coverage again, no matter where they get their insurance, thanks to the ACA.
· An estimated 55 million women are benefiting from preventive services coverage, including contraception, with no out-of-pocket costs. The ACA also made it illegal to charge women more just because of their gender, meaning that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.
· 9.4 million seniors on Medicare have saved over $15 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment, for an average savings of $1,598 per person.
· 2.4 million young people have been able to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26.
· The cost of uncompensated care in hospitals was reduced last year by more than $7 billion, thanks to the ACA. If all states expanded Medicaid, it could be reduced by almost $9 billion next year.
· Since the first full year of the implementation of the ACA, we have seen the slowest growth in real per capita health care spending on record. Long-term spending estimates for federal health care spending have been reduced by hundreds of billions of dollars.